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I would like to hear from other free-lancers who
use laptops exclusively in
their work. I'm curious whether the benefits of
mobile computing outweigh
the ergonomic limitations. Simply put, can a
laptop be used successfully as
a free-lance technical writer's sole computer?
I use a laptop exclusively, but not a Mac machine. I got it
because I'm in Europe for the time being, and power supplies
are smart enough to handle currents from 110 to 220
automatically. Also, I have a complete system, and I had it
up and running the day I got here... No need to scout
around for a fair price on a system in a country where I
don't know what a fair price is. And of course, it's easier
to move around.
As for the ergonomics, I have an external keyboard (¡Para
español, tambien!) and mouse. I don't know whether you can
do that on a Mac laptop. I personally abhore touch-pads and
can't live without a mouse. One day I may buy a monitor,
but for now I'm happy without it... I have lots more room
on my desk using the flat screen that comes with the
system. (I did opt for the cheapest type of screen, since I
wanted more power per $$. The newer, bigger, better screens
are pretty awesome, though.)
My only fear is that laptop components are smaller, and
hence (maybe) more delicate and (definitely) more
expensive. Also, my particular machine only came with a
3Gig drive. (Remember when 10 meg seemed huge?) So I dread
the possiblity of hosing my hard drive. Maybe this thing
will be obsolete before that happens... I only have 1.5
years to go for that. Oh, and one good thing... Laptops
tend to have greate service agreements... Mine is
world-wide for 3 years.
I was a Mac-only guy (at home) before I started
contracting. But for now I chose to go with Windows because
it seems most common (lowest-common-denominator?).
Actually, I have NT in case I need to document server
software some day. (NT is ok, but just because you need to
type in a password, that doesn't make it a real operating
system... I wish the world was on Unix... That should
indicate where I stand on the Mac/Win debate.) But for
writing Maker FDK clients, I find that Windows is where most
of the money is, and that is part of what I do. Likewise
SGML, believe it or not. As for writing, I use Maker, so
the platform issues sort of go away. Since I work remotely,
I transfer files rather than swap disks around. That make
life more or less like being on a network (albeit a slow
So the bottom line is, no reason not to use a laptop. As
for Mac issues, Idunno.